The Perry-Castañeda Library is the only building on campus where students can reserve private study rooms. It doesn’t help that the PCL is at the southernmost end of campus, making it an impractical late-night study spot for most students living north of the Tower or for students living in West Campus. The fact of the matter remains — only in one building on campus can students reserve a private group study room. This needs to change.
According to research conducted by R. Keith Sawyer, a professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying in groups helps students learn more productively than studying alone does. “Study groups are so effective because they provide a way for students to make the lecture notes their own,” Sawyer said in his research.
Although not all students prefer or even benefit from studying in groups, the group study rooms at the PCL are undeniably popular. They remain in constant demand, and more often than not, it seems like there are never enough rooms. Often, students have to reserve rooms days or sometimes even weeks in advance.
Chemical engineering sophomore Rachel Snead’s experience is typical of that of most students. “(The rooms) always seem pretty busy. My experience is kind of limited, but it seems like they’re stacked. Each hour, there’s another person trying to use it,” Snead said.
Snead says her experience with reserving study rooms here on campus is limited because she lives too far away. Snead lives in Duren, a residence hall located north of Dean Keeton Street, and getting to the PCL is a hike, she said.
“I usually walk, but that’s the farthest point on campus (from Duren), so last night I used Sure Walk,” Snead said. “I have to plan to go to the PCL because whether I’m Sure-Walking or just regular walking, it’s at least 15 minutes to get there.”
It seems like the only students who are well-served by the PCL’s location are those who live in Jester and the other smaller dorms in the area. Why are the only reservable private group study rooms in a building that doesn’t cater to the entire student population? Perhaps more importantly, why is there only one building on campus where students can reserve a study room?
It’s safe to say UT has a problem with effective use of space on campus. While group study can, of course, occur in other places such as coffee shops, apartments or even other buildings and libraries on campus, students are likely to be the most productive when working in the quiet, focused environment the group study rooms on campus provide.
UT should dedicate more reservable rooms in more buildings on campus to private group study. In the Student Activity Center, there are private rooms available to reserve, but only for student organizations. In the Engineering and Education Research Center, there are private study rooms, but they are not available to reserve. These rooms already exist, which means the hard part is done. Only the easy part remains.
UT needs to make these rooms reservable for students of all majors and implement a system just like the one that exists in the PCL. In the Union, perhaps a number of the smaller rooms not frequently used could be cleared out and converted. A reserve system could be put in place there as well. In the SAC and EER, the already existing rooms could be cataloged for student reservation. It’s clear the UT student body as a whole could benefit from the creation of more study rooms on campus. UT administration should make it happen.
Caldwell is a Latin American studies and journalism sophomore from College Station.